Things Are Looking Up…
Well, picking up right where we left off, the “Quantum Silica” has just messed up the timestream and imbedded chunks of time-traveling rock in a bunch of characters spread throughout the various parallel dimensions close to Earth. Record store clerk-cum-interdimensional adventurer Nick Vargas has just met Nazi scientist Friedrich Stoltz, the man responsible for his situation and we are introduced to post-nuclear bum Billy Capra, who uses his chunk of the supernatural gem to summon things like crack and beer.
The last pages of the comic also introduce our villain, again, who’s undeniable likeness to Agent Smith (of The Matrix films) is uncanny enough that I’ll give the creators the benefit of the doubt and assume that they must have been very upset to see their villain on the big screen before their story was in print. However, a slight change to his look would have been a very, very good idea, seeing how the only thing distinguishing him at this point from the Darth Vader of the Matrix is the occasional cigar. I keep waiting for him to break into a vicious soliloquy to “Mr. Andersen” about why appearing in comic books is his “purpose”.
Billy is certainly the most compelling character in the series so far, and I have high hopes for him. The dimension he hails from is interesting as well, and a commendable departure from the stereotypes and cliché that plagues the first issue. Billy’s world, subject to a nuclear exchange in 1987, isn’t just another Mad Max desert planet populated by mutants in weird motor scooters, but instead is a ghetto—a tremendous, never-ending ghetto of tenement after tenement, burned-out and forgotten, and brimming with poverty. It’s a much more believable post-nuclear scenario, one much easier to relate to, where people of all races and creeds struggle in a South Philly/Newark/Detroit-like environment where the scant few who realized how to benefit from the war are faceless and inaccessible, only mentioned by the bitter survivors.
The art seems to have improved as well, and the rushed quality of the first one is gone. Although the pencils still aren’t anywhere near what I would call some of the best, they’re significantly better than the first issue and even superior to some much more mainstream work that’s been released recently.
Without getting too biased, I’m happy to say that I’m engaged enough to want to see where this is going. Quantum still has its rough edges, but it’s a book with heart, which is better than I can say for most books with 50 times it’s distribution.